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A space rock containing over 100 million tons of platinum at its core was seen flying within 1.5 million miles of the Earth this past weekend, sparking interest in the future of space mining.

platinum asteroid

This asteroid “2011 UW-158” flyby was captured by the Slooh online observatory, using a team of telescopes located in the Canary Islands. Two live feeds were provided; one long range that showed the asteroid moving across the viewing field visible as a small white spec, the other a close up centered on the asteroid. Commentary was provided by both Slooh astronomer Bob Berman, and host Eric Edelman.

plat asteroid

A special guest appearance was made by Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki. Planetary Resources is an asteroid mining venture – that counts Google founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt among its backers – has its sights set on the 2011 UW-158. Due to the (relatively) close proximity of the asteroid, which is approximately six times farther than the Moon but 60 times closer than the next nearest planet, Venus, it has sparked a renewed interest in the viability of space mining.

The company has calculated the asteroid to contain about 100 million tons of pure platinum, approximately $5.4 trillion dollars’ worth. While they have also been tracking similar asteroids in our solar system, this is the one that has come the closest to the Earth.

Officials from NASA believe that futuristic space mining may be feasible as early as 2025. Asteroids would be “captured” and brought into orbit of our Moon, where space miners would be able to collect resources. NASA states that the elements present in asteroids, such as rocket fuel and water, could be gathered by future generations in the quest to explore more of our solar system.

 

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lady luckA fancy vivid yellow diamond weighing a whopping 77.77 carats is expected to be the top lot at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, with a pre-sale estimate up to $7.7 million.

Clearly the top lot has auspicious ties to the number seven. In the Western world, seven is considered the luckiest of all numbers; many a gambler has dreamed of hitting the 7-7-7 slot machine jackpot. For potential Asian buyers, seven is a lucky number that signifies togetherness, and the yellow hue is also symbolic of royalty and power.

The “Lady Luck Diamond” boasts a VS2 clarity and a pure fancy vivid yellow, the most desirable saturation for colored diamonds. Pure yellow diamonds owe their coloration to nitrogen atoms dispersed throughout the crystal matrix, which is extremely hard to penetrate. The amount of nitrogen present determines a yellow diamond’s saturation level, which is why the more intensely saturated gems are extremely rare and valuable.

Flanked by five-carat heart-shaped diamonds on either side, the “Lady Luck” is presented as the lady luck 2centerpiece of a three-stone ring in rich 18 karat yellow gold. It can also be detached and worn as a pendant on its own.

The “Lady Luck” is sure to appeal to a wide audience of bidders later this month at Sotheby’s “Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite Sale” at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The auction comprises 320 lots in total, including rare colorless and colored diamonds, gemstones, and signed pieces from the Art Deco period. Total sales expected to be generated are over $100 million.

 

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A Kazak herdsman had the luckiest day in his life when he literally stumbled upon a large gold nugget lying on the ground in Xinjiang, a far western region of China.gold nugget

Berek Sawut, the lucky herdsman hailing from Qinghe County in Altay Prefecture, tells China Xinhua News that he was walking around a local mining site when he suddenly spotted a brilliant gold object lying exposed on the ground. Asked about his initial reaction, Sawut responded, “When I walked closer, I was dumbfounded. My god, it was a piece of gold. I was so excited that I started jumping up and down.”

The nugget – approximately 23cm by 18cm long and weighing almost 8kg – was analyzed for composition, confirming that the nugget is about 80% pure gold, with the remaining being quartz, sandstone and other minerals.

It has a precious metal estimated value of $255,000 at the current spot gold price, but experts believe that the piece could fetch over three times as much due to the specimen’s rarity and uniqueness. It is the largest gold nugget to china nuggetcome out of the Altay region, a mountainous territory that hugs the border of Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan. This region has long been known for its’ gold mining, in fact “altay” is “gold” in Mongolian. Not to mention, most curiously of all, the large nugget is naturally shaped resembling the map of China.

Whether or not Sawut will get to keep or sell his find is yet to be determined. According to Chinese law, mineral resources that are found on or below the surface in this region is deemed as property of the state. However, given that his story has gone viral on Chinese media and that other mineral finds in the area were not confiscated, it is likely he will be allowed to keep it.

 

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nizamThe Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on her first official event of the year in great style, with an elegant navy Jenny Packham evening gown and her signature wavy locks. But what stole the show was what she was wearing on her neck, a priceless diamond necklace known as the Nizam of Hyderabad.

Named after the man who bestowed this extravagant gift, it has been a part of the Royal Collection of Jewels since 1947 when the Nizam of Hyderabad gave it to Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift. At the time, the Nizam was one of the richest men in India, and he governed over an area that indisputably is the origin of the most valuable diamonds in the world. The Golconda region, located just west of the Hyderabad district has produced large diamonds of such purity and quality that many are located in museums and royal collections to this day. The Hope diamond (Smithsonian Natural History Museum), Daria-i-Noor (Central Bank of Iran), Koh-i-Noor (British Crown Jewels), and the Archduke Joseph (recently sold at auction for a record-breaking price) are some famous diamonds with Golcandan provenance.nizam

This is the first time where the Duchess has stepped out in jewels from the royal vault, and she chose the fundraising gala at the National Portrait Gallery in London.  Despite the host of celebrities also attending and the priceless paintings themselves, all eyes were on the Duchess’ neckline. Media reports speculate that Kate will be undergoing a change in wardrobe to look more regal in the coming months.

The Nizam of Hyderabad is constructed of colorless diamonds and platinum, featuring a double drop pear-shaped pendant and thirteen emerald cut diamonds. It is seen worn by the Queen in many official portraits, and like other priceless jewelry pieces is unlikely ever to leave the British Crown’s possession.

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platinum wedding ringShould you choose white gold or platinum jewellery? What’s the differences between white gold and platinum? The first difference between white gold and platinum is the most basic and is the foundation of all the other differences. White gold and platinum are different metals. White gold jewellery are mostly plated. The plating of white gold, which is done using rhodium, is a practice that has been used in the jewelry industry for decades, it makes white gold bright and white. However, it is decorative so it’s not permanent; it’s used to event out the color and soften white gold’s yellow tint. Depend on the wear and tear of the individual, the plating could last several years, but eventually it wears off and needs re-plating.

Platinum is heavier and naturally white metal although a little grayish in color and has been used for hundreds of years. Platinum is harder to work with then white gold. The higher melting temperature makes it more difficult to cast. The platinum solders are also at higher temperature. These and other reasons make platinum more expensive to work with then white gold. It is the preferred metal when it comes to softer gemstones such as emeralds or to consumers who have sensitive skin or are allergic to nickel which is commonly used in white gold jewellery in North America.

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cufflinksToday’s popular male stars, such as Jay-Z, Johnny Depp, the Jonas brothers and Justin Bieber, tend to wear more jewelry and that’s opening the door for other men to realize that jewelry is a part of putting an outfit together. Jewelry is also a status symbol for men who have become more established in life and their careers. The more popular and traditional men’s jewellery are watches and cufflinks.

As men’s jewelry progresses, it will go through those conservative categories, of watches and cufflinks, to more modern categories, including bracelets, rings and pendants. These categories will continue to grow as the younger generation moves into the market. Younger generation may not be able to afford nice watches yet but they can all afford some nice silver men’s jewellery. Men’s jewellery can’t be too flashy, feminine or ostentatious; they need to have a masculine appeal. Brushed and blackened metals are great choices of design, and most of the time men’s jewellery are easy to maintain.

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DiamondsThe short answer is yes, they can – and it’s not that uncommon.

Diamonds are the hardest material on Earth, however that doesn’t make them indestructible. To understand how and why they chip, we must first separate the concepts of hardness and toughness. These two terms are often confused for one another, but they are not related in any way. Hardness essentially is a measure of how resistant a substance is to being scratched. Hardness depends on the strength of bonds between atoms in the crystal, and also can vary depending on the direction (along the crystal planes) in which this property is measured. This is why, although much less likely, diamonds can be scratched; and they most definitely can be scratched when coming in contact with other diamonds.

Toughness is the measurement of the ability of a material to resist fracturing, breaking, chipping, or cracking in general. The toughness scale ranges from: Exceptional, Excellent, Good, Fair, to Poor, in which diamond only ranks at a Good. A diamond has a cubic crystal matrix, in which there are four perfect cleavage directions. A cleavage direction can be described as a series of side-by-side straight grains running in one direction, such as the graining on a piece of wood. It is a plane of weakness in the molecular crystal of the diamond. Due to these points of weakness in the diamond structure, it is very possible for a diamond to chip and fracture in everyday wear and tear – it wouldn’t necessarily need a big impact for a diamond to chip, only enough of an impact at the right angle.

The shape of a diamond also factors into how likely it is to chip. Acute angles are much more chip-prone than obtuse angles. For example, in round diamonds the areas most likely to chip would be along the girdle edge or the culet (if pointed). However when round diamonds are set in a piece of jewelry the culet is almost always protected, so it is more common to see chips occur on the girdle. For fancy-shapes with pointed girdle edges, the risk of chipping increases. Princess, Marquise, Pear, Heart and to a slightly lesser extent Emerald and Radiant have a higher percentage of damage on the pointed girdle edge. This is why they are always set with prongs protecting the sharp edges.

If you are panicking because you have chipped your diamond or fear of doing so – read on to Part 2: Tips to Prevent Damaging a Diamond

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GlitterAngFor the fabulously wealthy, gold is not limited to jewelry. Here are some of the more unconventional ways that gold is being put to use:

For the woman who has everything, here is the most glamorous and exclusive nail polish in the world: the Model’s Own Gold Rush from British jeweler, Frost of London. This tiny bottle comes with a handcrafted 18 karat gold lid embedded with 1,118 diamonds! The polish itself resembles liquid gold, a metallic, rich pure gold hue with iridescence. The cost of each bottle of Gold Rush is a whopping $130,000 – but it is sure to make the wearer feel like a million bucks.

Just short of bathing in the metal, a floor length couture gown made entirely of gold sequins by designer Zac Posen will set you back approximately $1.5 million. Such a dress was worn by Caroline Correa for a Magnum Gold marketing campaign titled “As Good as Gold”. Handcrafted by the designer himself, the dress had pure 24 karat gold foil applique on each of the thousands of sequins.

GoldLady Gaga recovered recently from an emergency hip surgery, which rendered her incapable of walking for a few weeks. So of course, she commissioned a custom black leather and 24 karat gold plated wheelchair for her to ride around in style. Dubbed “The Chariot”, it looks more like a throne than a wheelchair. It comes complete with luxurious italian leather and gold plating on all of the delicate framework, with a removable canopy and full recliner. The designer, Ken Borochov, reportedly gave only a week to complete the entire project. The chair is both fashionable and fuctional – it has accompanied Lady Gaga all over Manhattan, from window shopping to shopping for a new apartment.

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Ever since Mr. Big gave Carrie a stunning black diamond engagement ring in the iconic television series Sex and the City, black diamonds have gained much more interest in brides-to-be and fashionable women alike. These dark, opaque stones have a mysterious and provocative quality about them. Why black? As Big explained to Carrie, “Because you are not like anyone else”.

Colored stone jewelry can create a more personalized and unique look than the traditional diamonds. They can complement an outfit subtly, or pull together a look with a statement. With black stones, there are three main types that are made into jewelry: black diamonds, onyx, and spinel. Some very, very dark sapphires can also pass, but they will generally be off-black with hints of their base color. For truly black stones, opt for one of the three above.

Black StonesThe most common no doubt is onyx. Onyx is actually a type of quartz that is black in color and extremely opaque. Quartz is relatively inexpensive, which makes onyx the black stone commonly used in beading and costume jewelry – however, if made well it can also be incorporated into fine or fashion jewelry. Out of the three, onyx is the softest (least durable) rating a 7 out of 10 on the Moh’s hardness scale. That is not to say it is fragile, however, it would be best suited to a necklace or earrings instead of a ring or bracelet, which is exposed to more wear and tear.

Black spinel is not widely known, which makes it all the more unique. It also possesses qualities that make it great for use in jewelry – it has a hardness of 8 on the Mohs scale, uniform in appearance, high reflectance and lack of cleavage (mineral lines in the stone that makes it prone to chipping). Unlike onyx, sapphire, and black diamond, black spinel is rarely heat-treated for its color. Price-wise, it would be somewhere between onyx and our next option, sapphire.

As sapphires are prized for their vivid colors, very dark almost black sapphires are priced more favorably than their lighter counterparts. Dark sapphires and black diamonds will tend to be more included than not, so be sure to buy from a reputable, experienced jeweler who knows and can tell you the difference between stones. Some inclusions could have a negative effect on the stone’s durability – making sapphire’s 9 on the Mohs scale less important in regards to that stone.

Good quality, natural colored black diamonds are hard to find. Most black diamonds in the commercial market have undergone irradiation or heat treatment to get to that color. This treatment is permanent, and is done usually on “white” diamonds that are heavily included – which as stated previously may or may not affect durability, depending on the inclusion type and location. Diamond is the hardest material on Earth at 10 on the Mohs scale.

The appearance varies only slightly between these types of stones, but keep in mind 1) type of jewelry – a necklace, ring, earrings? 2) type of setting – does the stone stick out or is it protected by metal/other stones? And 3) budget. The general rule of thumb for engagement rings would be either diamond or sapphire, for fancier fashion or fine jewelry black spinel, and for costume jewelry opt for onyx.

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